Picture of a judge's wigThis Is Not A BLOG!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 30/12/20

2020 Hindsight

(For RH, who won't have been expecting this).

Yes, I know what I said here about never doing another one of these end-of-year pieces, but 2020 has been so bizarre, so sui generis, so plain fucking weird that it would be a bit remiss of me to try to pretend that nothing about it was sufficiently worth remarking upon that I could avoid breaking my own rule and make some sort of comment upon it.

I'll start with myself, seeing as it's nearest.

2020 was always going to be an odd year for me, as it would see the end of what I had - with ever-increasing elements of the sardonic - called my 'career'. The office was closing in September, I wasn't going to transfer to Liverpool, and I was close enough to actual retirement that it did, in fact, stand to my advantage if I went as soon as was feasible.

I have covered the 'before', the 'during', and a little bit of the 'after' here, here, here and here, but I suppose I should now bring You, The Reader up to date with what has happened since.

It has now, at the time of writing, been exactly six months since I last entered the pickle factory which had been a central part of my life for just a few months short of thirty years. In normal circumstances, this would have meant that the final departure was going to be emotionally arduous, and that the sense of separation from so much of what (and so many of whom) I had known for so long was - potentially, at least - going to be difficult.

Of course, the only thing we haven't had this year (or at least since mid-March) has been anything which could be described as 'normal circumstances' without committing a fraud against reality. So it was that having to work from home for the last three and a half months of my existence as a wage slave drew the sting from the whole thing. Even those few of my quondam colleagues who had continued to stand by their desks to the very last said that the final days were more surreal than unsettling, and the end was quiet.

Since then? Well, I didn't really make much use of what good weather we had in the second half of the summer. After all, there are only so many times you can mow the grass, trim the hedges or do the weeding. And I have never been able just to sit there in a deck chair and do nothing, and not just because my deck chair (which I suspect was liberated from a garden centre in about 1973 in an act of the most desperate acquisitiveness) is extremely uncomfortable. I simply can't just sit there; it's never been in my nature.

And going for walks presents its own problems, not least of which is the fact that I have over the years walked just about everywhere around the manor where I can walk, and that nothing has changed sufficiently to mean that making the effort again would be remotely worthwhile. And I no longer feel confident enough to attempt the walks of five or six miles which I used to do from time to time (see the 'Ramblings' section of the site for more about those); two miles or so is now the full extent of my comfort zone.

So the most time I have spent outdoors has come in November and early December, when a number of bushes which had been left to go feral in recent years due to a lack of time, energy or weather - one elder, two forsythia, two red-flowering currant, one globosa, one standard buddleia, a philadelphus, two cotoneaster and a spiraea - were hacked down to the lowest sustainable level, if only to give me some breathing space with them for a couple of years.

Aside from that, and continuing the redecoration of the house in an appropriately desultory fashion, it has been a case of making my own entertainment. This has not always been easy, but I do seem to have managed to fill my time quite adequately, if only with tasks (too minuscule to be described as 'projects') which have kept me sufficiently amused that I don't decide to stay in bed all day, every day.

That apart, the family has been OK apart from the usual sorts of minor upsets which occur in families; certainly nothing that would justify changing our surname to 'Usher'.

Not that I've actually seen much of my family this year, of course. We had a big get-together in early February for one of those Significant Birthdays, but - for me at least - there has been little more than than an occasional (and 'distanced' for the most part) encounter with various members of the tribe.

The reason for that being, of course, The Big Story of the year. I have long taken the conscious view that Nature - however defined - is ultimately insuperable, and the spreading of a virulent disease seems all of a piece with The Mother Of Us All either getting her revenge for the hourly acts of rape we commit upon her; or of just trying to slow us down a bit so that we don't use up all that she has so quickly; or of just wanting to try out something novel to see what happens; or simply that she just likes a bloody good laugh like any normal demiurge.

Whatever the motivation, the effects on the human population of the planet have been...well, catastrophic of course for some (mostly, but not exclusively, the ones who are now dead or permanently incapacitated from it), but perhaps the biggest effect has been the way in which it has thrown everyone out of their accustomed relationships with the world. Even those smug, self-satisfied, self-regarding self-abusers who have so lorded it over the rest of us for so long suddenly found to their horrfied surprise that even their position of immense advantage wasn't enough to make them immune to either the disease or its effects.

Not that this has actually changed the balance of socio-economic power of course, especially in those under-civilised regions of the planet where it is still taken as something of a religious dogma that, in a crisis, those whose actions or inactions created or exacerbated that crisis must be the first to be defended against its negative outcomes. So, here in Greater Gammonia as in its master-state run out of Wall Street, the priority has been to protect businesses before people (and the bigger the business, the bigger the amount of our money shovelled their way, especially if they have close connections with those in whose gift it lies to hand the dosh out). This has meant not only that that enormous disparity between the rich and the rest has actually widened even further this year, but that we are being primed psychologically for yet another decade of 'austerity' to supposedly pay for all the largesse from which, by and large, we never actually benefitted even though we provided it.

(On a side note: one of my great discoveries in 2020 - even more pleasing than finding a new way of frying mushrooms - has been the YouTube videos of the Scottish political economist Mark Blyth. He is properly scathing about the myths of 'austerity', rightfully recognising such a policy as being as dishonest as it is counter-productive for its stated aims. And - being a native Dundonian - he isn't afraid to express himself in a straightforward, clear and forthright manner. Check the vids out and hear for yourself).

Naturally and - as with climate change - in the face of all the evidence, there has been an ever-widening and ever-louder clamour of denialism and conspiracism, from claiming that it was all a plot by the ruthless Chinks, to asserting that the virus was being spread by new telephone masts, to insisting that any putative vaccine was merely a way by which Bill Gates and George Soros could install micro-receivers into your body to control your thoughts and poison your precious patriotic bodily fluids (and besides which, Vaccines Are Dangerous As Everybody Knows; the alliance between pandemic deniers and anti-vaccination cranks must be counted as the leading candidate for the 'Least Surprising Event of 2020' award). The fake 'libertarians' have been particularly strident on both sides of the Atlantic during this time, screaming and stranking at the mildest of inconveniences to them as if the temporary procedures put in place to try to minimise the likelihood of large swathes of the population being wiped out by COVID-19 were evidence of the imposition of a thoroughgoing totalitarian state. The way in which many of these gobshites have managed not only to evade the strictures placed upon us mere plebs but to dodge any come-uppance for their actions would suggest that all we are seeing is, at worst, the same old, same old 'one rule for the rich' template which has been followed by the hyper-privileged the whole world over since time was.

Not that there are no causes for genuine concern regarding the effect that the prophylactic measures which have been imposed during the past nine months are having - and might continue to have - upon our rights both individually and collectively. Temporary removal of liberties have a nasty habit of becoming more permanent, rather like that set of 'temporary' traffic lights on the A494 at Drws Y Nant which was installed in 1979 due to a small landslip, and which was still in place a few months short of two decades later. The habits and methods of control such as those which have been used this year are too attractive to those with power for them ever to relinquish them voluntarily.

There are other sinister implications in the powers granted to government - or, with worrying frequency, the powers which the government has arrogated to itself without express consent from anyone else - in that they have enabled the Régime to use enormous amounts of public money to award non-tender contracts to companies with little or no experience in the fields covered by them, but which - by several of those wonderful coincidences which seem strangely to crop up on occasions such as this - happen to be connected to Party donors, members and representatives. This process has come to be dubbed by an uncharacteristically genteel press and broadcast news corps as a 'chumocracy'; but the only truly appropriate word to use is surely the most accurate description of it - corruption. The kleptocratic dictators of previous and present ages would gaze in awe not only upon the sheer chutzpah in doing it in the first place, but also upon the very high likelihood that its perpetrators will get away with it. For clearly, if the media are going to call such an overt and brazen grand larceny by such a touch-me-not term as 'chumocracy', we cannot look to them to hold power to account to any useful degree, on this matter or, indeed, on any other.

What doesn't help is that the Westminster State no longer has any form of functioning countervailing force within it. For, with the destruction of the Labour Party's attempt to sing Going Back To My Roots and return to some kind of social-democratic formation after over two decades of triangulatory neo-liberalism, and the inevitable subsequent resumption of control by those soi-disant 'moderate', 'centrist' and 'sensible' elements who - with the avid help of the entirety of the Official Media - manipulated events and perceptions to undermine the previous leadership, Her Majesty's Official Oppostion™ has now devolved into the 'chocolate teapot' phase of its final dissolution; its only remaining significance being that of a point on a line, i.e., having position but no magnitude.

Thus it is that the comrades - although that term may well have been replaced by the thoroughly managerial 'colleagues' by now - are busy throwing anyone remotely radical out of the Party on the most spurious of pretexts (where there might be a pretext at all) and sedulously following their supposed opponents towards the fake-populist right; led (if that word could ever be applied to him) by an over-promoted solicitor who constitutes no more than a suit containing a vacuum where any political or ethical principles should be. Which is why he ordered his remaining forces to abstain on the so-called 'Internal Market Bill' which pointedly undermines - probably terminally - the devolution settlements, but has commanded them to vote in favour of Bloody Stupid Johnson's miserable 'deal' on leaving the European Union; his calculation in both cases clearly being to admit (at least to himself) that his party has lost Scotland forever, but can still depend on those fabled Welsh valleys to keep on voting Labour, whilst seeking to pander to the basest prejudices of the so-called 'red wall' voters in central and northern England who deserted them last year.

Which brings me on to Br*x*t itself.

That any deal which could possibly be achieved after four years of posturing and expostulating was going to be no more than a pitcher of warm piss was, of course, a given. That in every significant area - trade, access, rights - the outcome is an historically unique case of a trade deal which leaves one of the parties to it in a worse position than in the previously-existing one was also inevitable; it still seems not to have penetrated the skulls of many on the Ukanian side - negotiators, politicians and gammons alike - that leaving a club means having to leave the benefits of membership behind as well.

And yet, utterly predictably, this is being presented to us as some sort of achievement for Johnson's dazzling talent. From nearly every newspaper, from the stenographers at BBC and ITV News, we are encouraged to see his desperate, last-gasp leap into the abyss as a triumph for 'sovereignty' rather than the miserable capitulation it actually is.

For a while, the manufactured portrayal of it may hold in the minds of most of those who have been baying for it for so long. Because the effects of disconnecting the Untied Condom from its main trading target will be felt gradually. Some foodstuffs may become a little more difficult to obtain, and will be more expensive when they are present; those whose wont includes day trips to Calais will find it a little more complicated and expensive to do so; buying products online which have to be shipped from abroad may incur tariffs which the purchaser will have to pay.

Eventually, however, the cumulative effects of all these elements, plus the increasing likelihood of employers partially or totally relocating to the rest of the continent, and the near-certainty that - for all the protestations to the contrary from London - any new trade deals which might be negotiated with other states will be loaded heavily against a struggling fourth-ranked power whose adversaries will know a weak negotiating hand when they see it, will lead to it becoming obvious to all bar the most dense that something is going badly wrong.

It would be wishful thinking, however, to believe that that would be the crunch time where all the chlorinated chickens will come home to roost; any initial difficulties may - with at least some degree of superficial plausibility - be explained away by the effects of the pandemic (after all, the Tories successfully blamed 'austerity' on the last Labour government for the better part of a decade without seemingly being rumbled). Once that excuse starts to look threadbare even to many of those who bought the antibiotic-saturated pig in the poke, then we will see the return of the old favourites; scroungers, immigrants, "nasty forrners always tryin' to do us dahn!", and the recent addition to the Carnival des Bętes Noirs, 'der liberal élites'. This line will be pushed and pushed and pushed by the same outlets who promoted the Br*x*t bollocks over the last few decades and, like then, enough of the terminally-malinformed electorate will accept it as being true to ensure that an ever-rightward-moving Tory party will maintain its position of dominance.

Please don't think that Br*x*t is over. It can't be. For one thing, the new arrangements have to be reviewed in full every four years, so we will have much the same old battles fought, much the same old jingoistic guff peddled, and much the same boost for exceptionalism, even if hard reality stands resolutely and inconveniently to the contrary.

Is there any hope? Well, no. At least, not if you live in England. Nearly two thirds of the parliamentary representation from that country is currently from the hard right, and the margins are such that it would take a swing of three per cent against them simply to deprive them of a majority, and probably twice that just to make Labour the largest single party (and still well short of a majority themselves). It's not going to happen - whatever tortuous posture the Labour Party may have adopted in the meantime - this side of December 2029.

In England's remaining neighbour-colonies, however, the picture in somewhat different. In Scotland's case, support for independence since the failed referendum in 2014 has never fallen below the level achieved in that Black September, and is now consistently at over fifty per cent. The way in which the clearly-expressed view of the people of Scotland that they wanted to stay in the EU was not merely disregarded but treated with absolute contempt by the Westminster State and its successive colonial governors-general, added to the strong perception that the Scottish government (despite one or two serious mis-steps) has handled pandemic measures more competently, more honestly and more humanely than the Johnsonites, means that support for indepdendence has not only grown but solidified to become something near the settled will of the people (who are, remember, sovereign in Scotland). It is impossible to see anything - except perhaps the self-satisfied complacency of some of the senior members of the SNP, and the SNP isn't the independence movement, nor vice versa - which would cause support consistently to drop below halfway.

The unionist-colonialists know this, of course. This is why their first step (as I indicated above) is to seek to remove as many powers from Holyrood that they think they can get away with taking, leaving it so weakened as to form a pretext - however unconvincing - for removing it altogether. On the so-called 'progressive' side (by which I mean the Labour Party's North Britain branch; I thought I'd better spell it out because otherwise from their attitudes and behaviour it would be almost impossible to attach the label 'progressive' to it), the panic is indicated by them once again dragging the poor old, raddled and well-past-it Federalism Fairy out of her sick-bed and encouraging her to fly. The problems with that are that, a) federalism within the framework of the United Kingdom (sic) simply isn't feasible because you'd never get it past the vested interests of Westminster without it being diluted to uselessness, and end up with something which was merely a more complicated incarnation of the current imbalance of power, b) Westminster would - as with similarly woolly and silly claims for 'Devo Max' - still hold the ultimate power, and would be no more answerable to Scotland than it is now, and c) that its proponents can't see how insulting the people of Scotland find it that their ancient nation should be considered deserving of the same status as, say, Yorkshire or East Anglia. There is a braw Scots word, 'thrawn'. It means 'recalcitrant' or 'cussed', but without either of those words' inherent gentleness. It is a concept deeply rooted in the Scottish psyche, and those who would seek to trick or gull the people there disregard it at their peril.

In other words, that boat has sailed. Indeed, not only has it sailed, it has sunk somewhere over Doggerland with all hands. All of which leaves unionist-colonialists with something of a problem, credibility-wise. As if they didn't have several already, of course.

And what of here, in England's Oldest Colony™. Well, in a country renowned both for shooting itself regularly in the foot through fighting amongst ourselves and for a species of secular quietism which has more to do with cowardice than contemplation; here, too, things have changed.

Even though we also voted - by a similar margin to England - for Br*x*t, there are clear signs that opinions have swung firmly the other way, suggesting that that support was down more to a general disillusionment with the governing system than to the exceptionalist sentiment prevalent to the east. Further to that, the fact that our government too has on the whole handled the pandemic more humanely than Westminster (whilst tending to do too little too late as a result of constantly peering fearfully down the M4 to see what their masters in London were willing to permit them to do) has led to a solidifying of support for the continued existence of our Senedd, whilst not shying away from expressing dissatisfaction with the people in charge of it.

This has not precluded the calling into existence of a party (or possibly two parties; a splinter group is trying to prise the party's name from the grip of the Continuity faction) dedicated to removing our parliament altogether and to re-instituting direct rule from London. Add also the fact that applicants for Tory party candidacies next May are being asked directly whether or not they would vote to abolish the Senedd, with clear preference being given to applicants who say that they would.

On the other side, we will have four nominally pro-independence parties contesting the election. In addition to the self-styled 'Party Of Wales', we have the right-of-centre Gwlad (whom leftists claim is a 'far-right' party despite there being nothing in their manifesto which indicates that they are any further right than, say, the German CDU); the grass-roots populist Welsh Nation Party (led by Neil McAvoy, one of the most effective politicians in the Bay, who was levered out of Plaid by various dubious means from various dubious motives); and the Greens, who have recently nailed their colours to the mast of their wind-powered boat, although their new position might be more convincing had their members not voted scarcely eighteen months ago not to follow the example of their Scottish counterparts and declare their own independence from London.

And sitting on the fence, torn between its servile adherence to the 'union', its self-serving claim to being 'internationalist' and its sclerotic inability to change when the world changes around them, is the Wales branch of the British Labour Party. The fact that polls have shown an increasing proportion of their voters from last year and their actual paid-up members are willing to embrace independence right now, and that some prominent figures (such as former First Minister Carwyn Jones, who has uttered stuff far more radical than anything he ever said whilst in office) have indicated that they are at least prepared to give serious consideration to the issue indicates that - coupled with their chagrin at being disregarded by those in power at the centre of Empire - they may be beginning to realise that the fate of their Scottish colleagues in going from 'natural party of government' to a whining rump in scarcely a decade will await them if they don't decide soon which side they are on.

Nonetheless, Labour is still trying to deny the encroaching truth that Westminster is coming for our parliament as well, and this has led them to emulate their Scottish equivalents in seeking to promote 'federalism', or make generic comments about the need to 'reform' the 'union'. A small hint, butts; you can't. You have as much chance of reforming Westminster - especially from within - as you have of lifting up a manhole cover which not only you but a Hawaiian sumo wrestler are standing on. Or, as I believe they used to say in the army, "You've as much chance of doing that as you have of stuffing half a pound of melted butter up a tomcat's arse with a red-hot hat pin".

Behind all this is something I never expected to see in my lifetime; the creation and growth of a grass-roots mass movement for independence. YesCymru was set up at the time of the Scottish referendum, and its sub-section All Under One Banner Cymru helped set up a number of marches and rallies (in Cardiff, Caernarfon and Merthyr Tydfil) which attracted attendees to be numbered in the thousands. Indeed, one was due to take place here in Wrexham in April, but my long-held ambition to attend such an event in my home town was, of course, thwarted by the arrival of an unwanted immigrant.

The campaign is lively, innovative and informative, and has (so far) resisted any attempts to turn it into a front for Plaid Cymru, recognising that in order to achieve the final goal, the appeal must be made to people of goodwill of all parties and of none. This has not stopped some elements within and around the organisation attempting to claim that you have to be left-wing in order to support (or, indeed, be permitted to support) independence, being seemingly completely unaware of a long and honourable tradition of conservative nationalism (one which Gwlad, for instance, was in part formed to tap into).

What is truly remarkable is the growth in YesCymru's membership during 2020. But every mis-step by Westminster (and the acknowledgement that, unlike the régime in London, both our and Scotland's governments have sought to prioritise what is right for people rather than for big business); every bit of colonialist arrogance from Tories within our country and quite a few beyond our borders who rant from a position of total ignorance (or, more risibly still, condemn our government for doing things which their government finds that it has to do just a few weeks later); every snub or slight to our parliament and government; every bit of evidence of corruption from Westminster and its little helpers here; every example of English arrogance in breaching our lockdowns with the sense of entitlement which comes from being duped into believing that you are innately superior to the surly, ungrateful colonials; each and every one of these events has sent people towards YesCymru, so that an organisation which had scarcely more than 2000 paid members at the start of the year will end 2020 with close on 17000 members.

(A sort of anti-disclaimer here; I am not myself a member of YesCymru, as I am not a joiner of things. I support its aims to the hilt, however, having been an 'independentista' (and will someone find a better word than that, please? It's a proper sod to type and it's no easier to pronounce) since about 1977, and having gone through the despairing decades thinking that I was doomed never to be regarded as anything other than a crank, some signs of activity in this area are beguiling).

So things are moving here. But caution is still the proper attitude to hold at this point. It could be that many of those Labour members and voters who support independence at present would melt away if there were to be a Labour government in London, however much it may merely be the brand-name for bottles of stagnant water. It may be that the continued unchecked influx of more-than-averagely well-off English people into our countryside (with the concomitant loss of housing for local people, especially the young) will so skew the electoral demographics that the bits of our political map currently shaded blue will remain so, and even spread, thus destroying not only any chance of self-determination but quite possibly destroying the nation itself as a meaningful entity. It may simply be that the momentum achieved in the second half of 2020 simply cannot be maintained. And in any case, the impression received from within social media bubbles is no indication of reality beyond the keyboard.

What with the Westminster power-grab (and that usurpation of our democracy being cheered on by largely-imported elements), and the inability to defend ourselves from floods of the selfish and entitled fleeing the lockdowns which their own wilfully clueless behaviour has made necessary, the choice before us is starker than it has ever been before; independence or total assimilation. Let us watch...and hope.

There is such a thing as the rest of the world, however, and it would be silly of me not to remark upon parts of it, in however cursory a fashion. So...

Variegated viruses apart, the Big Political Story was the Pestilential Election in the Untried Stoats of Amnesia where - if not a case of two bald men fighting over a comb - it was an instance of two old men fighting over a commode (the part of the commode was played by the Great American Public waiting to be shat on. Again).

Having being successful yet again in removing any inconvenient and embarrassing remnants of progressive thought from their platform, the Democrats put forward a seventy-seven-year-old long-time ally of white supremacists and private prison profiteers to represent the party of Roosevelt and Kennedy. That they thought that 'balancing' this out by having a candidate for veep who - whilst being non-white and female - has a long and disgraceful record of defending the abuse of African-Americans by the police and judicial system, gives some indication of the tokenistic contempt the upper echelons of the Democratic Party has for those sectors of the US population.

As in 2016, the thinking was, "So long as they're visibly less repulsive than Trump and Pence, we'll win." As not in 2016, this time they were right, with Biden and Harris gaining a comfortable victory in terms of number of votes, and that advantage translating into electoral college results.

Not that Dolt 45 (some people have claimed he was actually Dolt 44 because someone once served two non-consecutive terms in the nineteenth century, but some people just like to spoil a good joke) was ever going to go quietly. Mr Fart-euphemism had been whipping up his base for the whole of the campaign, trying to plant in their minds the idea that the election would be stolen, was being stolen, had been stolen and would forever and ever ay-men be stolen. So that, even given the scale of their man's defeat, the Trumpets besieged counting stations, picketed the homes of and threatened electoral officials, gathered in non-socially-distanced or masked displays from sea to shining micro-plastic-infested sea, and generally kicked up such a fuss that The Fall Of Democracy was being talked about with all due solemnity on CNN and MSNBC (or 'MSDNC' as Jeffrey St Clair of Counterpunch calls it, referring to the way that supposed 'news' channel is largely a conduit for the propaganda of the Democratic National Committee).

There followed a sequence of utterly risible attempts on the part of Trump and his gubernatorial allies to block confirmation of the result by court case after court case filed at all levels of the UncleSamian judicial establishment. Every single one of them was shot down in flames, and when even the Supreme Court which he had packed with ultra-rightists told him that they weren't going to take his shit, and substantial sections of the swivel-mounted low-calibre guns of Fox 'News' expressed rather more than slight scepticism about their orange hero's sanity, then he must have realised that the game was up, although both he and the fanatics he has encouraged these last six years or so continue to be in a state of denial, as one would expect from True Believers.

But even if the tortuous machinery by which presidents are chosen operates as intended in January, it would be a terrible error to think that all that preceded it will magically vanish. As with Br*x*t, the forces of extreme reaction set in train and openly encouraged by those with the power to do so are not going away. The armed rallies by groups which could by any objective criteria be called 'neo-Nazis', the threat of attempted violent takeovers of local and state legislative buildings, the hyper-inflated and inflammatory rhetoric; these will continue, even though the new occupant of the Nation's Only White House is as far removed from socialist inclinations as Wall Street is from Main Street.

The only thing which is likely to return to what passed as 'normal' before the reign of King Donald The Tribblehead will be the renewed tendency for the faltering US empire to indulge its fantasy of being the World's Cop (by appointment to Gahd). One thing which could be said for Trump was that in military and foreign policy terms he did comparatively little harm. He didn't start any new wars, and seemed lukewarm about continuing some of the ones hanging over from his 'liberal' predecessor B.H. Obama (failed). Similarly, for all the sabre-rattling (which, like his manic Twittering, were far more to do with his desperate desire for an audience), all that resulted was putting some noses out of joint and a head-shaking ridicule on the part of his targets.

That that will all change under Old Grampa Joe is a given, especially given his cabinet picks to date; stung by the reversal to US hegemony in Bolivia (where a left-of-centre government was elected back into power scarcely a year after the previous one had been overthrown in a military coup directed and supported by the State Department and encouraged by the dishonesty of the OAS) and Venezuela (where repeated attempts to overthrow a democratically-elected president have so far failed), DC will be eager to re-impose its will upon the rest of the Americas. Further afield, the scope for that murderous euphemism 'humanitarian intervention' will be expanded, because nothing shouts "USA! USA!" quite as loudly as bombing brown people on the other side of the planet.

Look too for a ramping up of the anti-Russian and anti-Chinese paranoia which the Trump administration had largely held in check. That there are elements within and around the incoming team who would not hesitate to create a full-blown Cold War 2.0 with Moscow and add Beijing to the mix as well is clear. It could be getting hot soon.

Elsewhere, the Central Committee, having long-since abandoned any pretence at being Communist in economic terms, will more completely abandon itself to an unstated policy of Han racial supremacy, the Tibetans will still be stamped on as a precursor to stamping them out, the Uighurs will still be put in concentration camps, and the people of Hong Kong will find themselves completely incorporated into Beijing's orbit (and please view the West's - particularly the so-called UK's - 'concern' with the situation there with a degree of derision; the Brits weren't at all keen on genuine democracy in Hong Kong until they realised that they were going to have to hand the colony back to China).

Beyond all that, the rise of the far right will likely continue unchecked. Orbán and Duda will continue to drag their respective states back to the nineteen-thirties with scarcely more than synchronised tutting from the 'international community'; their Asian counterparts, Modi and Duterte (who is a 'strongman' - defined as "A complete bastard, but our complete bastard"), will instantiate a religio-ethnic autocracy and a death-squad state respectively; the sheikhs and emirs of Arabia will continue to loot their countries and stash the results in the Square Mile (henceforth conveniently placed beyond the reach of Europe's new anti-laundering provisions); and the zionists will continue to thieve from, bomb, shoot and destroy the Palestinians, and do so with their customary impunity.

And all the while, the world continues to burn and (in the case of all those micro-plastics) melt, with little other than rhetoric from governments and corporations. "Same as it ever was...".

What of 2021? Well, please don't expect anything to change. The problem with demarcating years and decades is that it overlooks the fact that time is a continuum and has no regard for our arbitrary scratchings on the gateposts of existence. All may well be much the same twelve months from now.

The only thing I hope is that it'll be quiet enough that I really won't have to write one of these pieces about it.