Thu | Aug 17, 2017

Brian-Paul Welsh | New world order

Published:Tuesday | January 24, 2017 | 1:00 AM
Brian-Paul Welsh
President Donald Trump shows off an executive order Monday to withdraw the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact agreed to under the Obama administration.
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The world as we know it was originally scheduled to come to an end 17 years ago when the intelligent machines we built to maintain the system should have collectively imploded at the stroke of midnight because they weren't thought to be smart enough to compute in the new millennium. We somehow avoided that calamitous mishap and shortly thereafter began earnest preparations for the next Armageddon.

We've filled movie theatres with hocus-pocus plots and corrupted ancient wisdom into New Age folly, whipping up a cultural frenzy and capitalising on mankind's primal fear of his mortality. Now as the new icon in the Western cult of personality ascends to the iron throne, there are jitters once more that the trumpet has finally sounded and the apocalypse is nigh.

Viewers in Jamaica are mesmerised by the image of this jarringly charismatic figurehead and his captivating first lady smiling for the cameras in this new season of the grand old production. We know they have to put their best face forward, victors even in the midst of strife, never revealing any weakness in their state since the global community relies on this illusion to maintain stability.

As we anticipate the exciting climax of this new but familiar season of 'poly-tricks', the king of the north has already developed a reputation for being openly flirtatious with demagoguery and having a vulgar disregard for standards of conventional decency. To many, his swagger has become emblematic of the republic itself: swarthy and pompous even while facing imminent defeat, and this is also why his victory wasn't so surprising given that nation's penchant for self-aggrandisement.

 

VICTORIOUS VILLAIN

 

Propelled by incendiary media hype, those who had earlier dismissed his enigmatic cultural appeal soon came to the shocking reality that they were dealing with Mammon's cunning avatar, and by then the deed had already been done, the villain was victorious, and the liberal wave came crashing against the wall of the old capitalist regime.

Many are still in shock with jaws agape and in a seemingly perpetual state of woe; others have taken to the streets in hopes that their zeal will somehow persuade the ravenous beast to give up his bone; while some have resigned to the immutable reality of this new world and are now simply waiting for the president to push the wrong button.

The world as we know it is indeed coming to an end, and this latest phase of insular conservatism represents the final desperate gasps of that dying ideology. The horseman of the apocalypse is heralding the end of the world to which we are accustomed and is trumpeting the beginning of another filled with discomfort, guided by new circumstances, and governed by a new set of rules.

Indeed, it would appear with all the shifts in the polls we have witnessed in recent times that we are on the cusp of a new world order, reinforcing the idea that every cataclysm serves its purpose. The decisions of the next few years will, therefore, chart the course of our future.

Having survived several political disasters of our own here in Jamaica, and only recently emerging from a particularly bizarre epoch of leadership, the intense trepidation currently being expressed locally concerning our place in the world under the influence of a leader with a habit of alienation is understood. Many would have watched Seaga courting Reagan and now wonder if Prince Andrew will have a similar affinity for the corporation's new CEO, and more importantly whether it will be reciprocated.

Having first come to international recognition as a shrewd investor and serious businessman he had long gained respect for his dogged determination to create wealth and prosperity for himself and his family using the resources he had at his disposal. Indeed, before many bore witness to his more colourful personality traits, he was the archetype for the American capitalist and his many successes (and failures), were representative of the American dream.

Whether those credentials can translate to good governance is a mystery to us all, but this debacle is very instructive for those of us who have been observing the development of American democracy both at home and abroad. This moment of resistance to its own institutions is a necessary test of the hallowed principles upon which the nation was founded.

The furore now unfolding over the democratic election of Donald J. Trump is causing Americans to question whether they were ever truly endowed with any of the freedoms boasted about by his predecessor, George W. Bush, and likewise it causes us unsophisticated foreigners to ponder if they truly provide the right example.

- Brian-Paul Welsh is a writer and public affairs commentator. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and brianpaul.welsh@gmail.com, or tweet @islandcynic.