Tuesday 1 January 2013

My predictions for 2013

A spreading wave of protests against women's oppression?
As with last year's predictions, this is a soberly realistic view of what I think is most likely to happen. It is not always what I want to happen: in several instances I very much hope things will work out differently to my predictions.

In those instances I think things could turn out differently. As Neil Faulkner's excellent conclusion to his forthcoming book 'A Marxist History of the World' points out, history is a succession of choices (within, as Marx noted, given circumstances) and the future is determined by the choices we make, most fundamentally the choice between resistance and acqueiscence. I hope that in 2013 more people will choose resistance. There is enough kicking off already to suggest this can happen.

See what you make of these and let me know what you think. With any that seem downbeat or bleak, commit to doing your bit to making it otherwise!
1. Israel will execute a brief but devastating aerial attack on Iran in the second half of the year, generating a political crisis for US and UK governments alike (which will offer Israel only lukewarm support), triggering massive but short-lived anti-war protests worldwide and heightening instability in the Middle East.  

2. Egypt will be the main focus of progressive or radical developments in the Arab world, with repeated upsurges of popular struggle in the form of both protests and strikes. Morsi will, however, still be president at the end of 2013.

3. Assad will fall in Syria, but not for another few months. There will then be a political vacuum for a number of months, but in the longer term the post-Assad government will be entirely amenable to US and Western interests, just as in Libya. Any hopes for radicals and progressives of a post-Assad Syria that is politically independent of US imperialism will be shattered.
4. Geopolitical tensions between Japan and China - concerning disputed territories in South China Sea - will grow. Western media will finally notice this and start covering it.

5. Street protests against sexism and sexual violence will be a growing phenomenon in a number of countries, spanning Asia, the Middle East and Europe. India is, in this sense, an indication of what is to come.
6. Greece will remain in the Eurozone. Syriza will continue to be the principal political beneficiaries of deep social discontent, though the current pro-austerity government will hold together. The neo-nazi Golden Dawn will continue its campaign of intimidation, but make no further inroads into the political mainstream.
7. There will be a sharp increase in co-ordination of trade unions and anti-cuts movements across Europe - extending the co-ordination seen on 14 November 2012 when large-scale strikes and protests took place in many countries. Greece, Spain and Portugal will all see explosive mass protests and general strikes.

8. There will be no significant changes to US gun laws.

9. Opinion polls will show an increase in support for independence in Scotland, compared to polling in the last 6 months, but still with more people opposed to independence than supporting it. The SNP will tack slightly to the right, but the 'radical independence' campaign will gather steam. Scottish Labour will continue to be in the doldrums; tensions between Labour and trade unions in Scotland will sharpen.

10. The coalition government will remain intact, George Osborne will remain chancellor, and Nick Clegg will stress his party's differences with the Tories more vehemently (but with no discernible effect on Lib Dem poll ratings or government policy).

11. The Tories will lurch slightly further to the right over Europe, UKIP will continue to be a repository for right-wing discontent but without making any electoral advances, and speculation about Boris Johnson one day being Tory leader will fade.

12. Local government will be effectively destroyed, as councils of all political stripes implement savage Tory cuts. Labour councils will suffer an unprecedented crisis of legitimacy due to their acquiescence in this. Local government cuts will become a much, much bigger focus for anti-cuts mobilisation than we've seen in the last 2-3 years.
13. Scapegoating benefit claimants will become firmly established as the Tories' main political weapon in implementing austerity, with more (and more overt) attacks on welfare. There will be a substantial growth in campaigns opposing the war on welfare, which will become a central focus for the whole anti-cuts movement.
14. Local elections in May will see Labour making slightly more gains than in 2012. Opinion polling will indicate that a Labour majority is almost inevitable in 2015 - with Labour poll leads over the Tories of 8-10 points - yet the right-wing press and Tory politicians will contine to fail to grasp this.

15. Pay will become the biggest issue for the trade unions, with a number of unions taking strike action over pay restraint. There won't, however be anything approaching the scale of co-ordinated action witnessed on 30 November 2011. In education Michael Gove will carry on getting everything he wants due to a lack of effective opposition to his 'reforms' from teaching unions or Labour.

16. In the election for Unite general secretary Len McCluskey will defeat Jerry Hicks by a substantially bigger margin than he achieved previously.

17. The People's Assembly Against Austerity on 1 June, organised by Coalition of Resistance, will be a major success story for the English left, comparable to the recent Radical Independence Conference for the Scottish left. It will mark a turning point in co-ordination of campaigns in the anti-cuts movement.
18. The Grim Reaper will summon Margaret Thatcher, Hosni Mubarak and Fidel Castro.

19. The main focus of radical energy and discontent will be in protest movements, while electoral politics lags well behind. This country's outside-Labour left (including Respect and the Greens) will fail to make any breakthroughs electorally (unlike in 2012 when George Galloway won a by-election in Bradford West).

20. The revolutionary left internationally will continue to fail to grow.


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