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2010s. The Summary.


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#1
PhoenixRu

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Time is running forward, the 2010s are almost over. It's time to take stock and draw conclusions. This thread is about your personal view on the second decade* of XXI century. What are the most important trends and events? What have changed in the world? In your country, in your city and neighborhood? In your life and your views?

 

Unlike years, decades are long enough for people to "not notice" the slow but fundamental and irreversible changes. But when we begin to recall and compare, the difference between "colours of time" immediately catches the eye... so, that's what I want from you: a short essay about 2010s and their historic and (optionally) personal importance.

 

Of course, I too will write my essay, 2 or 3 posts later.

 

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* Yes, I know, technically speaking the second decade of XXI century began on 1 January 2011 and will end on 1 January 2021. But when people talk about "tenths", they mean exactly the decade from 2010 to 2019.


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#2
wjfox

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Post-truth politics.


#3
joe00uk

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The 2010s have seen US hegemony decline as the Western world endured a decade of economic stagnation. Large corporations may have recovered spectacularly from the Great Recession, but the average member of the public didn't. I think it took until 2018 in the UK for average wages to recover to their 2007 level. The US-China trade war looks likely to be the immediate trigger for the next recession which we are now on the precipice of. China carried on with its persistent rise as a superpower, experiencing rapid internal development as millions upon millions were lifted out of poverty each year. China even expanded abroad as it launched projects building high-speed railways in East Africa and pressed on with the 'One Belt, One Road' project across Europe and Asia. China initially led the way in 5G which was so much of a threat to US technological dominance that it arguably kicked off the trade war.

The US's decline was most evident globally during the 2010s in the form of failed regime change projects. Although Gaddafi was toppled in Libya in 2011, what came after was a failed state which wasn't exactly a stable market for US investment (in this way, fairly similar to Iraq the decade prior). The Ukrainian regime change in 2014 came with limitations for US interests, such as the Russian annexation of Crimea after a popular referendum and the armed resistance in the Donbass, although as of the very end of 2019 this seems to be reaching a more peaceful conclusion. In Syria, the US supported rebels with the hope of overthrowing the Assad government, but after eight years of civil war, it seems certain that Assad, with Russian and Iranian help, will win. At the end of the decade, the US tried several times to instigate a presidential coup in Venezuela with the aim of toppling the socialist Maduro government but this too failed miserably. The US was unable to pressure the DPRK to give up its nuclear weapons despite efforts lasting throughout the decade and from 2018 onwards, relations between the DPRK and its southern neighbour began to improve independently of the US. Russia and China became increasingly assertive in standing up to the US, although it must be said, China remains much quieter apart from engaging in the trade war. Even relations between the US and the EU have cooled as the US under Trump went as far as to impose some tariffs on Europe.

Essentially, a multi-polar world returned in the 2010s after being absent for almost three decades.

Internally, the situation in the Western world gradually deteriorated throughout the decade. Neoliberalism continued to erode the Western 'middle class' and a greater and greater number of workers began to rely on low-paid, zero-hours contract jobs in the service sector as an increasing number of traditionally higher-paying jobs were shipped off to developing countries where wages were lower and regulations fewer. This is a trend which had been ongoing since about the late 1970s. It was these zero-hours service jobs which were responsible for the deceiving unemployment figures later in the decade, which right-wing politicians in the West lauded as being the lowest since the 1960s. Living standards, however, continued mercilessly on their decline. Economic inequality reached levels that hadn't been seen since just before the Great Depression. Poverty was on the increase across most of the Western world. By the end of the decade, a third of Americans were estimated to be 'near poverty', buried by debt, and struggling to make it paycheque to paycheque, while Britain struggled to cope as homelessness tripled, a million families resorted to food banks, and austerity measures gutted public services. Victorian diseases returned to children in inner city areas where violent crime soared as police numbers plummeted. The 'Yellow Vests' movement in France in late 2018 protested against this inequality, perceived corruption, and the detachment of the elites from the rest of the population, and caused the most serious unrest in the country since 1968. The election of Trump in the US and the Brexit vote in the UK both in 2016 were seen as symptomatic of popular frustrations. Concerns about immigration fuelled right-wing populism which appeared to be on the rise across Europe throughout the 2010s, although despite fears of many on the left, fascism did not gain state power in any European country during the decade. This populist wave was also a backlash against 'political correctness' which was a strange and generally unpopular cultural phenomenon, as it was seen to cater excessively to minority interests against those of the majority. LGBT rights were expanded, with same-sex marriage seeing widespread legalisation across the Western world. Outside of the West, the concept of LGBT rights had a tendency to become associated with the societal decline also seen in the West and this made LGBT rights unpopular in countries like Russia. Fourth-wave feminism emerged in the early 2010s and sought to combine with elements of race and LGBT issues.

For me, this basically sums up the 2010s. Living in Britain, obviously I can only write in detail about what's going on in the Western world, and the general theme can be summed up in one word: decline. Not very optimistic, perhaps, but every civilisation goes through decline at some point before something new can take its place. Whether or not any of us will live to see what comes after, none of us may know.
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#4
funkervogt

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Smartphones became a commodity product. No one cares about what features the latest iPhone has. 

 

China's navy has surged in size, quality and overall strength. Consider that they launched their first carrier--in fact an old, retrofitted Soviet ship bought from Ukraine--in 2012. China is now building an indigenously designed supercarrier. 



#5
funkervogt

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The 2010s were the decade when internet videos went from pixelated by default to crystal clear by default. 


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#6
PhoenixRu

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The World

 

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Let’s start from demography. During this decade, world population increased from 6,9 to 7,7 billion people. The average growth rate continued to decline as predicted but anyway, if you think about, these numbers are amazing. Another, truly symbolic milestone: for the first time in human history, urban population outnumbered the rural one. By the end of decade, the population of “world city” reached roughly 55% while “world village” shrank to 45% and this trend will continue.

 

There were no major interstate wars and territorial changes, though with two important exceptions: South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 and became a fully recognized country and a new UN member. Crimea seceded from Ukraine in 2014 and re-joined (or was annexed by) Russia. Unlike South Sudan, this event wasn't recognized by UN.

 

Among the main events that shaped the face of the decade, one can mention the “Arab Spring” supposed to pave the way for liberal democracy in the Middle East, but in reality paved the way to instability and a long chain of bloody and complex conflicts with tens of participants including great powers. The main victims of “Arab Spring” were Libya (regressed from stable and relatively advanced dictatorship to failed state and boiling pot of warring factions), Syria (large-scale civil war that had a huge impact on current world order), and Yemen (Saudi invasion, that was supposed to be a “small victorious war”, has led to long and hopeless conflict with Houthis - the local religious/patriotic movement supported by Iran).

 

Another Middle Eastern sensation was the spectacular rise and fall of ISIS – the first real attempt of "international terrorism" to create its own state from scratch. Attempt has failed (or, to be honest, was crushed by mutual efforts of few competing great powers) but caused a huge damage to the entire region.

 

In the West, the main trend of the decade was erosion of stable and (as it seemed) long established bourgeois democracy and the rise of “anti-establishment” movements and politicians. Very different (from ultra-left to ultra-right ones), these movements had one thing in common: they have grown from fear and anxiety of “little man” faced with advancing neoliberalism and declining welfare state. The neoliberal mainstream is still refusing to acknowledge and respond to these anxieties and describing them as a mere riot of "ignorance and bigotry" against progress and common sense. In any case, one thing is now obvious: the predicted and long awaited (by Western elites) “End of History” not going to happen in the foreseeable future.

 

Another main trend was a slow decline of US hegemony and ability to “project power” on others. Failures in Syria (inability to change the “regime” backed by competing great power) and Venezuela (the "winner" of the coup was proudly and openly announced and "recognized", but then...) were especially symbolic and indicative. As recently as in the early 2010s, Americans were busy discussing the pleasant matters like: “are we a hyperpower or just a superpower?” By the end of 2010s, they’re discussing the matters like “are we really a failing state?” In the forming multi-polar world, America will, for some time, still remain “strongest among equals” but far from undisputed world leader it was in 1990s or 2000s.

 

My Country (Russia)

 

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During 2010s, Russia remained itself: a country of striking contrasts, the slowly (or not so slowly, in this decade) advancing cyberpunk coexisting with slowly retreating, but still viable archaics. Existing political regime reached maturity, the word “stability” replaced the word "reforms" as a symbol of desired state of things. Unlike 2000s with their booming economy, 2010s became the decade of geopolitical adventures and economic slowdown. Russia continued to evolve towards state-monopolistic capitalism. The share of state in economy has risen dramatically while small business is (in best case) still struggling for survival.

 

But this “stability” is clearly coming to an end. Russian society, too, reached maturity and feels a growing discomfort from rigid bureaucratic paternalism with its desire to control everything that can be controlled and strangle everything that can not be controlled. As it was said above, the 2010s were the decade of geopolitical adventures which have merged the common people and elites into brief situative alliance called “Crimean consensus”. But in 2018, elites themselves destroyed this “consensus” with their cynical and ill-prepared pension reform.

 

Other important failure of current regime is its inability to offer the viable and attractive ideology. And what was really offered – the new edition of quasi-religious and quasi-monarchic ideas, combined with castrated and carefully managed state patriotism – instead of source of inspiration became rather a target of jokes. And this is logical: what worked well for XIX century peasants, can not work the same way for XXI century urbanites.

 

The present is controversial, the future is foggy. But situation is far from being hopeless. There were also important victories, achievements, great infrastuctural projects that will be remembered by descendants. Though not so fast, our life is getting richer and longer, our cities are becoming cleaner and safer. The legendary “Russian alcoholism” has long become a thing of past, and street crime is ceased to be even mentioned as one of public concerns.

 

My City (Samara)

 

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I have no reasons to complain. The city is growing, qualitatively and quantitatively. Within 2010s, we’ve seen one new river bridge, few new highways, two new satellite towns, upgraded embankment, a world-class football stadium, and so on... in general, Samara has become cleaner, more modern and comfortable. I hope this trend will continue.


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