Thursday, December 29, 2011

Downtime- Happy New Year

The period between Christmas and New Year always seems rather slow. The year is not yet finished, but I always feel rather reluctant to start something new, when I know it will be interrupted by yet another holiday- and also in my case, my return home to Tallinn.

It has already been the longest trip to the UK this year, albeit that I have been here only 9 days. I find that I do not feel particularly alien- why would I? Yet I can not say that I am still in touch with the zeitgeist in Britain now. There is a comfortable familiarity in returning to old haunts and seeing friends and family. Yet I am more convinced than ever that Britain as we have known it is fading away. The country I grew up in - still reflexively thinking in post-Imperial ways- has given way to a shrill, sharper and more fearful place. Whereas the price of decline in the seventies was the final loss of empire, now it seems to be the loss of ourselves. The alienation of Scotland and England seems increasingly irrevocable.

I was thinking about how the subjects of His Imperial and Royal Majesty Franz Josef might have viewed their future in 1911. At that time, Vienna was a prosperous, intellectually vibrant capital, and Budapest was a boom town, rather like Dubai today. I cannot believe that many would have thought that Serbia would be the cause of the dissolution of 700 years of Habsburg dominion. Yet within four years, Franz Josef was dead, and two years after that, so was his Empire.

London in 2011 is looking forward to Queen Elizabeth II's diamond jubilee, and also, of course hosting the XXX modern Olympic Games. 2012, despite fears of austerity, seems set to be quite a party- and of course the SNP will not make their move on the referendum, until the party is safely over, and something of a hangover has set in. By 2014, which will be the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, the Separatists will be preparing to bring down the curtain on over 400 years of Great Britain. As the Habsburgs have proven, longevity and success are not guarantees of survival. I will continue to advocate maintaining the common state, yet in 2012, I will also turn my attention to my country of residence. 

Estonia has had a good two decades of renewed freedom. Economically, despite the impact of the global recession, the country remains economically dynamic, flexible and increasingly prosperous. Yet still, there remains the fear that judgement on the country has not been made, but only reserved. The fear of a repeat of the invasion of 1940 remains strong. Yet, over the course of the next few years, I hope that Estonians can begin to relax a little. The growing protests in Russia against the venal, incompetent and increasingly brutal regime of the Putinistas, shows that there is hope that Russia can build a civic society and a democratic government. A liberated Russia would be a happier partner for Estonia- and indeed the whole world- but the release of Russian economic dynamism that would come from the fall of a deeply hidebound and corrupt regime could transform the economic face, not just of Russia, but Europe as a whole.

So as I look back on 2011 with generally positive feelings, I also look forward to 2012 with more hope than fear. The year of Arab liberation in 2011 may be followed by greater strides towards liberalism and further moves towards democracy across the whole planet. After years in the doldrums, I begin to think that the markets may stabilise in 2012: I certainly think there is more risk now on the upside than on the down side.

So, I look forward to seeing more friends and more places in 2012.

Happy New Year
bliadhna mhath ur
Head Uut aastat
laimingų Naujųjų Metų
Bonne année
Szczęśliwego nowego roku
sretna nova godina 
З новым годам
laimīgu Jauno gadu
srečno novo leto
la mulţi ani
šťastný nový rok
С Новым Годом
ath bhliain faoi mhaise
Щасливого Нового Року

1 comment:

kresimir kopcic said...

Sretna nova godina to you too, James