Yeah, I know –the noughties was a shit name for a decade. But let’s see what happened.
Politically the biggest single event was the 9/11 attack and its aftermath. American soldiers invaded Afghanistan, and NATO troops are still there. The USA, with the UK as its poodling sidekick, invaded Iraq, and that country probably won’t get back on its feet before the middle of the next decade.
The biggest story economically was the rise of China. China is still a relatively poor country, but at their current rate of growth they will surpass the US economy sometime between 2030 and 2035. China recently executed a British man, and their government seeks to forbid the British government from criticising this decision:
A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Jiang Yu, told a press briefing in Beijing no-one had the right to comment on China’s judicial sovereignty.
“We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British government’s unreasonable criticism of the case. We urge [them] to correct their mistake in order to avoid harming China-UK relations,” she said.
If that’s how arrogant China is now, how arrogant will they be when they equal or surpass our power? The Chinese government is deeply undemocratic, and can be expected in their own interests to hinder the growth of democracy worldwide.
The West became powerful because its economy was thriving, which made it militarily strong. Now China has 9% growth rates, it is beating us at our own game. Modern China the biggest threat to western civilisation since Attila the Hun. It is in our interest that either they become a democracy, or we seek to prevent them from getting wealthier than us.
The biggest winner from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is China, since these wars inflame sentiment against the West in Muslim countries, and make it easier for China to gain common cause with these countries. Similarly the West’s support of Israel also alienate moderate Muslim sentiment from the West. The West therefore needs to tell Israel to get out of all the land it occupied in 1967, or it is on its own. At the same time we need to do a deal with Fatah where they suppress Hamas (because the best cure for religious extremism is a bullet in the head) and allow the conditions whereby Palestine can become a relatively liberal democracy, a decade or two hence.
In technology, this was the decade of the Internet. Most people in developed countries have broadband today, and by the end of the next decade, most people in the world will have it. The content industries have fought back against the freedom to exchange information that the net brings, and to counter them, the Pirate Party was born in Sweden which is today part of an international Pirate Party movement in 30 countries. Expect the copyfight to continue in the 2010s, and Pirate Parties will become a mainstream political movement, at least as mainstream as Green parties are today. By the end of the decade, Pirates will have achieved some of their goals, by preventing future restrictive laws from being enacted. In the early part of the 2010s this will mainly involve the ACTA Treaty which will lead to an almighty row and will never be implemented.
2009 saw the failure of the Copenhagen summit to achieve a meaningful settlement on climate change. In response, sensible Green activists will start thinking about technology instead of politics as a possible solution to reducing carbon emissions. For example if solar cells or solar furnaces could produce electricity cheaper than current power stations, everyone would move over to them and carbon emissions would be reduced.
In Britain, we had the first ever full decade where the Labour Party was in power. What started on a hopeful note — the sun still shone out of Blair’s arse in 2000 — ended in a despairing note as Labour look forward with dread to see what revenge the voters will take on their perceived failings.
Labour failed to tackle poverty: their solution of a minimum wage makes a minimal difference to the problem, because many people on the minimum wage aren’t poor (they live in multiple-earner households) and many people who are poor aren’t on the minimum wage (they are unemployed). Instead, the correct solution would be to reform the benefit system to reduce the 100% marginal tax rates of those going off benefits (the best solution would be a citizens income) and to allow more housebuilding (so that people can buy a house for approximately the cost of building a house, not 4 times more as at present). No doubt the incoming Tory government which will rule for at least the first half of the 2010s will also fail to make these reforms, just like they did when they were last in power (1979-1997).
Labour did succeed however in destroying civil liberties, with their detention without trial, control orders, people being harassed and arrested as terrorists for taking photographs, and to cap it all their law giving them the power to do anything they like, the Civil Contingencies Act. Nice one lads; we can all rest assured that should the BNP ever win an election, they won’t have to pass a single law to make this country a repressive dictatorship.
Labour also managed to wreck the economy by vastly increasing public spending (from 36% or GDP to 48%) without much in the way of improved outcomes (are the British people healthier or better educated than a decade ago?). Now we have a 14% budget deficit and people are suggesting that the UK might lose its status as a safe country to lend to; if that happens and we have to cut spending in a hurry, we’ll get a double dip recession and the shit will really hit the fan.