Dateline: January 1, 2024
Top Ten Trends of 2023:
The Year in Review
by Kimmel Short
As we look back at the year 2023, we can see ten important trends that will continue to shape our lives in 2024–and beyond.
First, America has not fully recovered from its military defeat in 2021 at the hands of China.
The US has had to reconcile itself to an inferior status in the Pacific–and perhaps the world. To be sure, the actual military losses suffered by the US were minimal; the American surveillance satellites, blinded by Chinese lasers, have now all been replaced–albeit they are limited to new orbits that do not violate China’s Sovereignty Zone. The three US aircraft carriers that were sunk in the first ten minutes of the conflict represented a great loss of life, of course, but as the Sharpton-Paul Commission concluded in 2022, the US had no legal authority, in the first place, to patrol that close to Chinese waters. Moreover, now that Taiwan has accepted reunification with Beijing, and now that Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea have agreed to accept People’s Liberation Army “Friendship Bases” on their territories, experts can cite no reason for the US Navy to venture east of Hawaii.
On the other hand, the stock market continues to hit record highs, although skeptics attribute this rise to the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve, as opposed to the basic strength of the US economy.
Second, we have seen the final elimination of US influence in the Middle East. It’s been eight years now since President Obama pulled the last American troops out of Afghanistan. The US had high hopes for the 2015 peace agreement between the late Hamid Karzai and the Taliban, but those hopes were dashed the following day.
As for neighboring Iran, the results have also been disappointing. In the six years since then-President Hillary Rodham Clinton launched airstrikes against Iran, that country’s power has increased, not decreased. What the Clinton-Christie administration did not foresee, of course, is that within weeks of the US strikes, the Tehran regime would join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, taking its place alongside China and Russia. The result was a new Eurasian Axis that has supported, not stymied, Iran’s nuclear program. Earlier this year, United Nations Secretary General Chelsea Clinton expressed hope that Iran could be persuaded to stop further nuclear testing. She spoke for the hopes of many when she declared, “Surely eighteen tests are enough!”
Third, 2023 witnessed the continued rise of Social Mediacracy. Today, it seems, every American gets to “vote” on just about everything. Perhaps the watershed movement came in late 2013 and early 2014, when a social-media firestorm saved the cable TV show Duck Dynasty. After the Robertson family resigned from A&E TV, they began a five-year odyssey among three different cable networks. In each case, the relocation was followed by a social-media counter-attack and boycotts, which ultimately forced the show to move its cable home yet again. In 2018, the Robertson family announced plans to create the Duck Dominion Theme Park and Shooting Range near their home in West Monroe, Louisiana. After years of litigation, the high-tech Duck Dominion opened, offering online fans from around the world a chance to enjoy the virtual “Duck Dynasty” experience.
And today, of course, elected officials are so afraid of igniting social-media firestorms that they live in fear of what’s been called “social mediacracy.” Indeed, an oft-told joke today is that the two chambers of Congress should be called “Twitter” and “Facebook.” After all, more gets done in these new bodies.
Fourth, in some areas, in some ways, Americans are freer than ever before. The passage of the Cruz Amendment in 2015–enacted in the wake of the Republican landslide of 2014–established that America would have a blue-state “Obamacare Zone” and a red-state “Nobamacare Zone.” Since then, in the blue states, tighter gun control and the accumulating Political Correctness Statutes have protected the populace from an estimated 36 different categories of “hate speech,” ranging from the familiar crime of homophobia to the newer violation known as vegan-phobia. Meanwhile, in the red states, it’s possible to shoot, or tweet, or frack–or even to celebrate Christmas–as much as one wishes to.
Fifth, in some other ways, all Americans are less free than ever before. In the wake of revelations of National Security Agency spying in 2013, repeated attempts were made to roll back such pervasive surveillance, and yet all those efforts have been rebuffed by a bipartisan security elite. Indeed, over the last decade, it’s been increasingly unclear where public-sector surveillance ended and where private-sector surveillance started. The merger of Google and Facebook (now known as Goobook), quickly followed by the merger of Apple and Amazon (now known as Apzon), has only intensified the concentration of invincible surveillance power. For those seeking genuine privacy, the remaining option seems to be going off the grid completely. However, the official designation of America, in 2020, as a “Drone Zone” has made the pursuit of privacy–and safety–anywhere in the nation all the more challenging.
Sixth, the conversion of the World Wide Web to the Regional & State Web continues. The NSA revelations of 2013 encouraged countries around the world to think about creating sub-internets that would be outside Uncle Sam’s prying eyes. The pioneering work of Iran and China, which had long kept the US out of their servers and cloud spaces, has been much studied and replicated. Today, reports suggest the emergence, here in the US, of “Local Dark Webs,” immune from scrutiny–but these reports have been hotly denied.
Seventh, the rise of multivariate”-gamy” forms of marriage has accelerated. That is, bigamy and polygamy, of course. Also, xenogamy, which is interspecies marriage. In addition, cybergamy, or marriage to a computer. And in 2023, we have seen the formal legalization of cratgamy, defined as marrying the bureaucrats; yes, what was once informally referred to as the “The Julia Marriage” has become yet another valid form of marriage. Former US Senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum issued a statement saying, simply, “I told you so!” But then his communications privileges were revoked; he has been in a Massachusetts jail for the past three years, convicted of hate speech uttered during a debate at Harvard University. Santorum has not been heard from since.
Eighth, the impending merger between the US and Mexico appears to be preceding, albeit slowly. The federal government has rejected the merger, but California’s “sister state” relationship with Baja California has deepened, to the point where all border checks and inspections have ceased and the two entities are the same color on the map. The population of the Golden State has nearly doubled over the past decade and continues to grow. Already boasting 82 House members–66 of them Democrats–California could have more than 100 House members after the next census.
In the meantime, American states along the northern tier continue to examine the idea of leaving the Union and joining with Canada.
Ninth, the Blade Runner-ization of America has proceeded. The vision of that long-ago 1982 movie, starring Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer, seems to be coming true–that is, the rich getting richer and society cleaving ever farther apart, in every possible way, including the emergence of new medical technologies available only to a few. Meanwhile, humanoid robots, too, are joining our midst. Another prophetic movie from the 80s, Robocop, also merits our continued attention. Over the last decade, much of the US Army, as well as many police forces, have been replaced by robots. And for the most part, the results have been successful, although the phenomenon of berserk rogue machines–notably last year’s incident in Palo Alto, California–continues to be a concern.
Tenth, what’s come to be called “The Great Escape” has continued. Although the libertarian idea of oceangoing “seasteading” proved to be a pitiable disaster in the late teens–some ships captured by pirates, others sunk by the Chinese, at least one lost in a bloody shareholder mutiny–other forms of “escape” have succeeded. That is, escape from earth itself. For example, the Branson-Musk Lunar Colony, opened in 2022, has been a success, attracting high-net-worth individuals willing to forsake the earth for the pleasure dome of the moon. And Israel, increasingly concerned about its geopolitical situation in the Middle East, is rumored to have established a “Next Zionism” outpost on Mars.