Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

2011: The Year of Our Discontent

Ralitsa Kovacheva, December 21, 2011

Only in a few decades, after millions of years of evolution, the seven-billion mankind forgot the good old Homo sapiens (the wise man), it was bored with the working Homo faber and decided to bet on the game, in which you win or lose. The Homo ludens (the playing man) bet everything and lost. Thus was born the protesting man - the person of the year, according to TIME magazine.

Although the economic crisis has hit the strongest the old steady Western world, the white swallows came from the East. The Arab spring has melted authoritarian regimes down in Tunisia and Egypt, and brought to the streets people in Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Syria and even Iran. Bloody quelling of the riots in Libya led to a NATO intervention, which ended with Colonel Gaddafi's death. Another of the world's last dictators left this world at the end of the year - North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The year was marked by the death of the most wanted terrorist in the last 10 years - Osama Bin Laden. However, though having lost its emblematic face, the threat of terrorism remained, invisible and impersonal, ready to reincarnate in any face. We saw it in the empty eyes of Norwegian Anders Breivik, who shot 76 young Norwegians, simply because he did not share their values.

Intolerance rampaged in the streets in the UK, burned the Athens' Syntagma square, swept the Wall Street and made a tent camp in Madrid's city centre. The indignados finger pointed banks, as their number one enemy, while political leaders were trying to rescue the financial system from its next (or maybe last?) collapse.

The debt crisis proceeded crawling across Europe. It overthrew the governments in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia; opposed "North" to "South", rich to poor, disciplined to profligates. The euro area was at the brink to remain at least with one country less (Greece), but ultimately the EU ended the year with one country more (Croatia). Although, it is not so sure. Europe prevented a dramatic divide into "two speeds" between the eurozone and the rest, although these are only words at the moment, but the UK seems more than ever to be an island in the European Union and there is a new dividing line - la Manche.

The debt crisis did not miss the US too, which, although paying with its highest credit rating, is still the world's largest debtor with no prescription for healing. Against this background, China proceeded conquering new territories, as after the Middle East and Africa it has debarked in the European periphery.

And while the world was trembling metaphorically, Japan was shaken by one of the most devastating earthquakes in history. Tens of thousands of people died, hundreds of thousands remained homeless, a few went voluntarily into the melting nuclear reactors in Fukushima to prevent a nuclear disaster. The Japanese did not protest, they stood up and went on.

Against the backdrop of the rest of the world, Bulgaria remained a calm and quiet place. Bulgarians were still dozing off around the tables, tired of midnight sprees, and lost in the haze of television news. Yes, there were some protest against the extraction of schist gas, against high fuel prices and against the gypsies. The budget deficit has melted, but the businesses, the income and the number of Bulgarians have also melted. Like the promise about Schengen membership, which has been postponed indefinitely. But there is nothing to worry about, because the elections have passed. Plevneliev replaced Parvanov at Dondukov 2 [as president], but the change that Bulgarians have been waiting for for more than 20 years is still missing. But it already has a name: Terminal 2 (at Sofia airport).

And while waiting for that change, we said goodbye to one of the fathers of the great change in Eastern Europe 20 years ago - Vaclav Havel. The world also mourned one of its most inspiring minds - Steve Jobs. He left us the everlasting slogan of protest against the status quo: "Stay Hungry! Stay Foolish!" Stay seeking.

34 years after Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, scientists have discovered Tatooine – the home planet of Luke Skywalker from "Star Wars". And they supposed that they have found "The God particle". The evidence for God`s existence. Because, unlike homo sapiens, the protester does not trust the Cartesian cogito ergo sum (I think, therefore I exist).

The world did not end on 11.11.2011, but the Mayan calendar has scheduled the grand finale for 21.12. 2012. It is for sure that after more than 365 days the world will not be the same. And if the hero of 2011 was the protester, in 2012 we expect the return of Homo faber - the creating man.