Sunday, January 3, 2016


It's that time of year: a time for forecasts, predictions and prophecies.  That said, I don't think one year makes much of a difference on the scale of 'change that matters'.  Most of what occupies the headlines (and the commentaries I read) is the stuff of 'sound and fury, (usually) signifying nothing'. But entertaining nevertheless.

Maybe we need to take a longer term perspective (like the xkcd cartoon opposite)?

Of course, the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising provides an opportunity to widen our temporal horizons a little (I even wrote an entire book on the subject once).  Though anniversaries have a way of becoming a Rorschach test onto which we project very contemporary (and therefore transitory) concerns and anxieties. Just as the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising in 1966 was an exercise in 'didn't we do well' self-congratulations (all evidence to the contrary); so 2016 is shaping up to be an exercise in 'let's create a real secular Republic' just like the Rebels wanted (again, all evidence to the contrary).

Instead of using the past to explain the present, we often tell stories about the present to explain the past (the 'Politically Correct History' trope). While the stories we tell about the future (whether a year ahead or a century ahead) always bear an uncanny resemblance to the present (the 'Society Marches On' trope).

So I expect lots of 'headlines' in 2016 (both the predictable and unpredictable kind), but not a lot of change (other than a further leftward shift in Ireland's Overton window after the General Election... or maybe after the second one later in the year).

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