The Center for Global Justice assembled a panel to assess the year 2021. A historian, two economists and an activist/philosopher will look at the year just passed. Peter Kuznick, Doug Henwood, Jeff Faux and Cynthia Kaufman all agree this has been a year with multiple crises. The pandemic that just won’t let up, growing climate collapse, continuing racism, worsening U.S. relationship with both Russia and China, deep economic problems, massive refugee migrations, widening inequalities both within and between societies, and a dysfunctional political system that is unable to deal with any of the above -- all of that has contributed to a mood of despair. Who wants to bring a child into such a world in disarray? Consequently, birth rates are declining. Despair is also reflected in the rising suicide rate and opioid addiction.
We are at one of those rare times in history when the old structures can no longer perform the functions they were designed for and where the new structures have not come into being. If we are in an interregnum, it is not clear what might lie beyond it. Perhaps, this is the end time for humanity.
Early in 2021 there seemed to be some room for hope. Political activism by young people keeps hope alive. But on the other side there is the Right striking against anything that is rational, foretelling a future fascism. Still, there are organizing opportunities for positive change.
That is the hope that activists/philosopher Cynthia Kaufman carries over from the year. Among other books, she is author of Challenging Power –and that is probably what it takes. Doug Henwood is an economic analyst and journalist who has long edited the Left Business Observer. He is also a contributing editor at The Nation. Jeff Faux is an economist well known to our audience for his incisive political analysis. He has authored The Global Class War and The Servant Economy. Peter Kuznick is a historian, focusing on international relations. He is well known for his collaboration with Oliver Stone on The Untold History of the United States.